Watch CBS News

In a global pandemic, health care positions top "Best Jobs" list

U.S. News' list of 100 "Best Jobs"
Health care jobs top U.S. News' list of 100 "Best Jobs" 01:24

Nearly half of the nation's top 100 jobs for 2021 are in health care, perhaps no surprise amid a worldwide pandemic that has been raging in the U.S. for almost a full year.

Forty-two of the 100 jobs included in U.S. News and World Report's annual "Best Jobs" list this year fall under health care or health care support roles, like physician, dentist, anesthesiologist and occupational therapist.

"One thing the global pandemic has reinforced is the need and value of health care professionals," Antonio Barbera, consumer advice editor at U.S. News said in a statement. "This year's rankings affirm that it is a good career sector for many, with typically high median salaries and low unemployment rates." 

Health care jobs have also surged in recent years as baby boomers get older. "Over the next 10 years, the baby boomer generation will enter the 65- to 85-year-old age range and that will put more demand on health care and health care roles," Barbera told CBS MoneyWatch. 

Physician assistant ranks No. 1

For the first time, physician assistant tops the list of the best jobs. The role typically requires a master's degree and involves diagnosing illnesses, implementing treatment plans and performing certain procedures. 

Among the reasons to become a PA, who typically work alongside a licensed physician or surgeon: excellent pay and employment prospects. The median salary is more than $112,000, and the unemployment rate is below 1%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The field is expected to grow and create more than 39,000 new jobs over 10 years. Physician assistants also report being highly satisfied in their jobs. 

Rachel Schwartz, a 32-year-old PA in Denver, said she is highly involved in patient care and has the independence to perform bedside procedures and operate alongside physicians. 

Dr. Jon LaPook shares a firsthand look at getting the coronavirus vaccine 07:24

"At the same time, I am able to live my life to the fullest by enjoying time with family and friends and partaking in all of my favorite recreational activities. It truly is the best of both worlds," Schwartz told CBS MoneyWatch.

U.S. News reviewed federal labor data to identify jobs with the greatest hiring demand and scored them based on a variety of measures including projected growth rate, median salary, employment rate, future job prospects, stress level and work-life balance. 

Other top health care jobs as ranked by U.S. News include nurse practitioner, which came in at No. 3, and medical and health services manager (No. 4). 

Earning more than $100k a year

Sixteen of the 25 best jobs paying more than $100,000 per year are also in health care. Orthodontist, anesthesiologist, and oral and maxillofacial surgeon ranked one, two and three by pay, with each boasting a median salary of around $208,000.

Non-health care jobs that made the 100 Best Jobs list include software developer (No.2), statistician (No.6) and information security analyst (No.15). Jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are hot given their ample salaries and relatively reasonable work-life balances. 

U.S. News and World Report also ranks jobs based on location and the level of education required. For example, home health aides, also a health care role, is the top post for a job seeker without a college degree. A high school degree is needed, and the median salary for the role is $25,280.

Following are the top 20 jobs on U.S. News' list of the best jobs for 2021: 

  • Physician assistant
  • Software developer
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Medical and health services manager
  • Physician
  • Statistician
  • Speech-language pathologist
  • Data scientist
  • Dentist
  • Veterinarian
  • Orthodontist
  • IT manager
  • Physical therapist assistant
  • Anesthesiologist
  • Information security analyst
  • Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor
  • Financial manager
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
  • Occupational therapist
  • Marriage and family therapist 

Click here for the full ranking.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.